Winter is right around the corner, and this year, you’ve been tasked with planning the snowboarding trip!
While the job is challenging, you’ll find everything you need in this article.
So, before you start whipping out your credit card, read our ‘How to plan a snowboarding trip’ guide for some pointers.
If executed correctly, the perfect (or nearly perfect) snowboard trip can be a once-in-a-lifetime event. You and your buddies will be talking about it for years to come!
1. Assess Your Crew
Before diving into destinations or choosing a place to stay, I highly recommend considering several factors regarding your group. The last thing you want is for a friend to feel like they are holding everyone back!
Snowboarding is expensive. Especially when you include travel and single-day lift tickets.
So before choosing to fly halfway around the world, chasing powder at Myoko Kogen in Japan, consider what everyone is willing to spend!
(For reference, Japanese snowboard trips cost over $3000!)
Experience is another factor to consider when planning a snowboarding trip. You obviously don’t want to recommend a heli-skiing trip in Whistler, BC, if you have some newbies on board.
Get an idea of what everyone wants to do during downtime. Some of the best memories are made whilst out of your bindings, whether relaxing in a hot tub or indulging in ski town nightlife.
2. Find a Mountain
Now the fun begins!
Choosing the destination for your snowboarding trip is likely the most important aspect of the vacation.
The ideal mountain depends on your group’s budget, skill level, and enthusiasm for going out at night.
While choosing a resort is the most common destination, expert snowboarders can skip lift lines and hit fresh powder in the backcountry. But first, let’s cover how to find a ski resort that checks the boxes of your whole group.
The Perfect Resort
Ski resorts come in all shapes and sizes, varying from massive world-renowned destinations like Zermatt in Switzerland, to small boutique resorts like Whitefish in Montana, USA.
As a result, you must consider two factors above all else when choosing a resort: the terrain and proximity to a town.
While there are many other characteristics, including terrain parks, average snowfall, and lift quality, the mountain’s run diversity and location are the most important!
Your group’s skill level should determine the type of terrain at your mountain of choice.
One of the reasons Aspen, Colorado, attracts skiers and snowboarders from around the world is because of the diversity of terrain. The city is within 15 minutes of four different mountains; all included in a lift ticket with various types of runs.
Below is a description of the mountains near Aspen Snowmass to help you understand the different types of resorts.
- Highlands – Steep and deep with few groomed runs and lots of double black diamonds
- Buttermilk – X-games terrain park and beginner runs
- Ajax – Leans moderate terrain with plenty of moguls and plenty of blues
- Snowmass – A mix of everything
Assessing your crew before finding a mountain is crucial. You need to find a resort that has terrain to accommodate everyone.
1. Expert Terrain
If you are all powder hounds, a resort meant for beginners and intermediate riders will likely lead to boredom! So, find a mountain like Aspen Highlands with ungroomed bowls, trees, and steep runs.
A mountain that isn’t challenging enough for your group could be a bummer, but it’s not a trip-ending decision.
2. Beginner-Friendly Terrain
However, taking a group of beginners to a resort with 80-90% expert terrain could lead to disaster, i.e., one of your buddies getting seriously injured, lost, or spending 3 hours getting to the bottom and never snowboarding again.
As a result, I suggest erring on the side of caution when choosing the type of terrain that best fits the crew.
The Advantages of Choosing a Ski Town
Understanding a resort’s proximity to civilization is critical in your quest to plan a snowboarding trip.
Many mountains don’t have lodging near the lift, or will have hotels but nothing to do after dinner time. Literally nothing.
If your group plans on staying out at night and doesn’t want to get up early to drive to the resort, you’ll also want to find a proper ski town.
For example, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is one of the most popular resorts in the US, with terrain that can accommodate any rider; however, there’s not much going on in Teton Village (hotels, restaurants, and shops near the lifts) after 9 pm. So, you’ll need to stay in Jackson if you and your group want options late at night.
Towns like Aspen and Breckenridge in Colorado, are all legit ski towns with nightlife, ski lifts, and lodging, all within walking distance or a short shuttle ride.
A resort is the best option for most snowboarding trips. However, if you and your friends have season passes and have already been to world-class resorts, consider a backcountry trip.
You will undoubtedly have to pay more upfront (unless you are hiking) for snowmobiles, snowcats or heli-skiing. But the time spent on your board will be unparalleled! Trust me!
Getting dropped off in a helicopter or even cat snowboarding is a bucket list trip for most snowboarders and may not be quite as expensive as you think.
3. Consider Timing
Choosing a suitable date can really make or break your trip. Ideally, you want a slew of powder days while avoiding crowds. F
ollow our recs below to narrow down the dates most likely to reward your crew with snowstorms and short lift lines.
1. Chasing Powder
It goes without saying that snow is a fundamental part of your snowboard trip. Unfortunately, mother nature isn’t always cooperative, especially with plans made months in advance.
It goes without saying that snow is a must. Here are some tips to give your trip the best possible chance of getting a powder day:
- Book your trip in January or February (Northern Hemisphere) or around August (Southern Hemisphere).
- Pick resorts with high average annual snowfall.
- If possible, pick multiple possible dates to give your trip a better chance of landing on powder days.
- Be flexible. While booking late will cost more, you’re more likely to get better conditions if you choose your resort a few weeks out.
Unless you can only get the group together during breaks, avoid dates around major holidays at all costs.
Ski resorts are packed with kids on dates when school is out. Be mindful of the local holiday schedule and opening week if you don’t want to spend the trip waiting in lift lines.
3. Spring Snowboarding
I always recommend a spring trip if you aren’t too worried about the conditions.
Even if there hasn’t been much recent snow, the warm temperatures will soften up the surface and make your riding more enjoyable. In addition, many resorts host events (such as pond skimming) and lower lift ticket prices in the spring.
4. Set Up Your Base
While you won’t be spending the majority of your trip indoors, lodging is still an essential part of how to plan a snowboarding trip.
Thanks to the rise of short-term rentals, you now have plenty of options outside the traditional luxury ski resort hotel.
Here are examples of places to stay on your trip:
- Resort – Everything you need in one place (but an expensive option).
- Ski Town Condo – Easy access to the resort without the hotel staff and amenities.
- Hotel/Motel – Save money by finding a traditional room close to the lifts.
- Rental Home – Use a service like Airbnb to rent someone’s house.
But you don’t have to limit your search strictly to ski towns when planning a snowboarding trip.
For example, Denver, Colorado, is just an hour and a half away from multiple resorts.
If you stay in a city close to the mountains, you’ll have a diverse selection of properties and nightlife. However, the commute to the resort and back every day will be more taxing.
The Advantages of Ski-in-Ski Out
Choosing a resort, condo, or home with lift access is a huge advantage.
While this option will be more expensive, you won’t have to drive, and you can sleep in every day, right up to a few minutes before the lifts open.
In addition, you can go back to base for breaks, rather than waiting in line for (expensive!) food or drinks at the resort.
Homes with Amenities
Your lodging may be the first place you look to cut costs, but I still suggest considering renting a home with a living area or hot tub before pulling the trigger.
A nice place that makes you want to stay in could save money in the long run!
Going out each night in a ski town will cost at least $100 per person, which adds up quickly over a few nights.
Spending the extra money on a home with a kitchen and living area could help your group avoid swanky restaurants and staying out all night at the bars.
5. Pre-Book The Essentials
It’s always cheaper and more reliable to pre-book your lift passes, gear rentals, airport shuttles and any scheduled day trips (for example cat-skiing).
It doesn’t take long, grab a beer and get organized!
How Many Days Do You Need for a Snowboarding Trip?
The number of days you need for a snowboarding trip can be highly variable. As a general guideline, a snowboarding trip should last from 3 to 7 days. This allows for time on the slopes, rest, and other activities. However, it ultimately depends on factors such as your experience, fitness level, destination, and your trips purpose.
How to Save Money on Your Snowboard Trip
You’ve likely already started adding up the expenses for your trip. Don’t panic just yet!
Here are some tips that will help you save:
- Rent gear at home rather than at the resort
- Anything you can’t rent, buy second hand
- Purchase lift tickets/lessons/rentals together in advance
- Look for ski and stay packages
- Make a trip to the grocery store upon arrival
- Pack food or eat lunch at home rather than at the resort
The Perfect Snowboard Trip
Pulling off the perfect winter getaway is next to impossible, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Something will always go wrong, but that’s all part of the fun.
Remember to assess your crew, choose an accommodating mountain, and pick lodging that adds value to the overall experience.
As long as everyone makes it back in one piece, you’ve pulled off the job. Your friends will even ask you to start planning for next winter (your planning skills have become both a blessing and a curse!).
Have a great trip!